The Scowcroft Factor


Via Josh Marshall, an interesting Wall Street Journal account of Brent Scowcroft’s behind-the-scenes role talking to Barack Obama and trying to push some of his younger protégés as job candidates.

To understand the context for this, it’s important to recall that the ideological spectrum around foreign policy elites isn’t sorted all that well. On economic issues, moderate Republicans are almost all still to the right of moderate Democrats. But on foreign policy, traditional Republican realists have a lot more in common with liberal Democrats than either do with Democratic hawks. Both are likely to have opposed the Iraq War or soured on it early. Both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that we should base our foreign policy on self-righteousness. Both are likely to appreciate the importance of taking a balanced approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that the highest expresion of humanitarian impulses is launching unilateral wars surrounded by high-minded rhetoric.

Under the circumstances, outreach from Obama to Republican realists would constitute a counterpoint rather than an intensification of outreach from Obama to Hillary Clinton’s top level of supporters and advisers.